The Robin Hoods of Nottingham
Stuart Broad reading Duncan Hamilton’s biography of Harold Larwood © ECB Cricket
The television camera panned on to Stuart Broad reading Duncan Hamilton’s much acclaimed autobiography of Harold Larwood. Abhishek Mukherjee takes a trip down memory lane to re-live the Nottinghamshire pace tradition.
Long, long ago there was a man called Robin Hood who took money from the rich and gave it away to the poor. How they made merry in the Sherwood Forest those days! Even the formidable Sheriff of Nottingham or Sir Guy of Gisbourne could not conquer Robin and his party!
Then, in the early part of the twentieth century, there rose a man from the mines of Nottinghamshire. Harold Larwood was his name, and it was his sheer pace that reduced the greatest batsman of all time to human levels. With him came the southpaw, also from a Nottingham mining background: Bill Voce turned out to be the perfect foil of Larwood, and went on to join Gubby Allen with the new ball.
Then the pace dried out. The fast men kept coming, though: Keith Miller; Garry Sobers, Clive Rice; Richard Hadlee; Franklyn Stephenson; Paul Reiffel; Chris Cairns; they delivered for Nottinghamshire, and kept the tradition going; some served them for years; some had short stints; but there was never a dearth of pace.
But those men cramming up to feel in Trent Bridge were probably not happy. They wanted one of their own sons to live up to take over the new ball, terrorise opposition batsmen, run through opposition sides; and they found one in Stuart Christopher John Broad, son of the man who had helped bring the 1986-87 Ashes home with three hundreds.
Stuart Broad is certainly no Larwood; but when the television camera catches him reading Duncan Hamilton’s award-winning biography (which is unarguably one of the finest biographies in the history of the sport) of the legend, the old-timers retiring to the Trent Bridge Inn may nod their head in unison.
There may be a revival, after all.
(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)